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Darren Clarke admits his OCD will help his Ryder Cup captaincy

By Kevin Garside

Stockists of blue and yellow fish in the Minnesota area, stand by your phones, you might be getting a call from Darren Clarke.

Europe's freshly minted Ryder Cup captain hosted his first media engagement since his appointment last month at the point of departure for Hazeltine National in 553 days' time. In keeping with the sleek design values of Heathrow's Terminal 5, the newly-svelte Clarke cut quite the dash in a slim-fit Ryder Cup two-piece.

These are early days and a long way from the focused planning that will keep Clarke off the course for much of next year, but already the wheels of production are beginning to turn. His wife Alison, a former model, is a veteran of the fashion scene and has enquired about what role she might have in the styling of the team.

Clarke has no desire to meddle with the formula that has brought Europe so much recent success, though he will give some thought to reducing the captain's picks from three to two. He is likely to go with the five vice-captains policy deployed by Paul McGinley at Gleneagles and engage in the same forensic detailing as his predecessor, right down to the fish in the tank.

"I suffer from a little OCD myself," Clarke said.

"That was Paul, the attention to detail. I'm sure I'll end up doing the same sort of thing. You can never be perfect, but you are trying to be perfect. There is more to it than the golf these days. The commitments have gone up, as have the responsibilities. Ultimately, it's about doing what you can to give the players the best chance of winning. That's what I will be doing."

The USA's defeat at Gleneagles, their eighth in the past 10 outings, prompted the launch of a task force, led by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, to establish a template by which future captains are selected and players given a voice.

Clarke said: "It shows how much they care.

"Trying to find a system to beat the Europeans is a compliment in itself. I'm delighted that they are doing whatever they can to try to win it, but in terms of what that means to the European team, I would be foolish to change anything significant from the method we have had of late.

"I don't think the pressure is on us. They are on home soil and desperate to win it back. Yes, we are going for a record run (four straight wins) but they are professional golfers with a lot of pride. They want to win."

Clarke is helped, of course, by having among his ranks a player he knew was unusually gifted when, as a junior, he attended his own golf school. With the Masters a fortnight away, Rory McIlroy's attempt to bank the only Major to elude him is golf's dominant storyline.

"Kids like Rory don't come along too often," said Clarke.

"He had that something special about him as a young boy, when he came to my foundation. He was different and still is. If he doesn't win at Augusta this time, he will win next time, or the year after that. He is going to win there sometime. His game is perfect for Augusta, it is just a question of when. He is that good."

This is territory once the domain of Woods, a player to whom Clarke is closer than most. Woods has yet to declare for Augusta, but Clarke warns against using the past tense when discussing his prospects.

"It would be wonderful to see him back playing the way we know he can," added Clarke.

"He is obviously struggling with his fitness and his game. When you make changes because of your body it is difficult because you are making an unnatural movement and that is obviously the problem. It's a struggle but he is one of the greatest to have ever played the game. We tend to forget that a little bit, with Rory playing as well as he is and players like Jordan Spieth coming along. We should not be in too much of a hurry to write him off."

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